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Oneill Surf Shop photo

This month we had the pleasure of talking to Tanner Beckett, the GM for the Oneill Surf Shops in Santa Cruz County, Ca. They currently have 4 stores in the county. One in downtown Santa Cruz. One in Aptos. One at the famous Boardwalk. And, their largest store on 41st Avenue.

Uroko: When did the business first open its doors? How long have you been in business?

Tanner:  Jack O’Neill first opened O’Neill Surf Shop in 1952. 70 years, this year!

Uroko:  What is the story behind the name of your business? Is there a significance to the name?

Tanner: In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Jack O’Neill lived in San Francisco and frequented the waters of Ocean Beach.  He would body surf and began to experiment with ways to keep himself and other surfers in San Francisco warm in the freezing waters of Ocean Beach.  In 1952 he opened the worlds first “surf shop.” There were a few others with surfboard stores in southern California like Dale Velzy or Hobie Alter, but Jack opened the first store dedicated to all things surf.  He shaped and sold surfboards, made wetsuits, sold surf wax and eventually did rentals and lessons on the Great American Highway in San Francisco.   

Oneill Surf Shop photo

Uroko:  Why did Jack want to open a retail store?

Tanner: According to Jack, “I wasn’t doing anything special when I started making surfboards, I was just doing anything I could – fishing, weaving crab pots – but I spent more time surfing than anything else, so I decided to open a shop.” (Jack O’Neill, It’s Always Summer on the Inside by Drew Kampion page 62). 

Uroko: What differentiates your business from local competitors and/or other businesses like yours elsewhere?

Tanner: The history of O’Neill, the company’s deep ties to Santa Cruz and the local communities is something that makes the O’Neill Surf Shop very special.

Uroko: What is the best part of managing a store in your community?

Tanner: Sharing Jack O’Neill’s love and enthusiasm for the ocean, surfing, and community.

Uroko: What are some of the events, services, and activities that you do for your community?

Tanner: Jack O’Neill started the O’Neill Sea Odyssey in the 1990’s.  After attending a dedication ceremony for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Jack decided he wanted his catamaran to be a vessel that people could use to learn about and experience the ocean. Jack spent much of his life on the ocean, and he wanted kids to understand and appreciate the importance of the sea and the life it holds. “The ocean is alive,” Jack often said, “And we have got to take care of it!”  Today the Sea Odyssey has taken more than 100,000 students out to experience the sea and learn about the importance of ocean ecosystems.

Present day Oneill Surf Shop on 41st Ave in Santa Cruz